Dr. Mid-Nite is glad for a tussle. Artist: Stan Aschmeier.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Chuck Reizenstein (writer) and Stan Asch (artist)
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Before the Americans with Disabilities Act, before "Political Correctitude", before Affirmative Action was even a twinkle in the Supreme Court's eye — as early as 1941, DC Comics

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… introduced the world's first blind superhero, beating Marvel's Daredevil into print by no less than 23 years.

It was in All-American Comics #25 (April, 1941) that Dr. Charles McNider, promising young surgeon, was blinded in a mob attack on a witness in the trial of "Killer" Maroni. Later, in a scene reminiscent of the bat that inspired Batman's career or the bird that allegedly inspired Gardner Fox to create Hawkman, an owl flew through his window and tore the bandages off his eyes. That was how he discovered that, like the owl, while blind under ordinary circumstances he could see in the dark as well as most people could in broad daylight. What's more, he was able to create infra-red goggles that enabled him to see in regular light as well.

He kept this knowledge to himself, however, and began moonlighting as Dr. Mid-Nite, one of a large and growing number of costumed crime fighters that inhabited U.S. comic books in those days. (By the time he came along, the All-American title alone sported Green Lantern, The Atom and The Red Tornado, and was only a month away from introducing Sargon the Sorcerer.) The owl, which he called Hooty, became his partner in adventure. For weaponry, he used a "blackout bomb", which spewed forth thick, black smoke that only he could see through.

The character was created by writer Chuck Reizenstein (who also co-created Mr. Terrific) and artist Stan Aschmeier (using the name "Stan Asch", which he also used in co-creating Johnny Thunder). Reizenstein and Asch continued to produce the feature during its early years, but were succeeded by other writers and artists. It ran in the All-American Comics back pages until #102 (October, 1948), after which every series except (the other) Johnny Thunder was dropped and replaced with westerns.

But Dr. Mid-Nite's actual first appearance took place in the previous issue, in a one-page promo that also included Sargon.

Dr. Mid-Nite became a member of The Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #8 (January, 1942), when he and Starman replaced The Flash and Hourman. He stayed with that group until #57 (February, 1951), after which All Star, too, converted to westerns.

Like most '40s heroes, he sat out the rest of the 1950s. He was next seen in The Flash #129 (June, 1962), in a brief flashback that served to introduce him and several other JSA members to newer readers. The following year, the JSA began a series of annual crossovers with The Justice League of America, in which Dr. Mid-Nite was an occasional participant. He's since been seen from time to time in conjunction with the JSA, but hasn't been a very prominent part of it.

During the 1980s, he was retro-fitted into The All-Star Squadron, a conglomeration of all the 1940s superheroes DC owns. Also in that decade, he acquired a female successor, who called herself Dr. Midnight when she joined Infinity Inc.

Eventually, both doctors were killed off. But in 1999, DC introduced yet another Doctor Mid-Nite, in a mini-series later reprinted in graphic novel form, written by Matt Wagner (Mage) and drawn by John K. Snyder (Classics Illustrated). The new doctor was very similar to the first but with a less colorful costume, which makes more sense for a guy who operates best in the dark. And so it goes …


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Text ©2003-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.